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Gray will maintain most lower traffic camera fines

In the budget released today, Mayor Gray has allocated money to keep many traffic camera fines, which DC recently lowered, from automatically rising again. He will also propose raising fines a tiny bit for moderate speeding and considerably for major speeding.


Photo by Gerard :-[ on Flickr.

Last year, Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Mary Cheh, and Marion Barry introduced a bill to lower fines for speeding up to 20 mph over the limit, for blocking the box, turning right on red without stopping, and other violations. This responded to public sentiment that fines were too high and that camera tickets were an unfair cash cow for the District.

The original bill reduced fines to $50 for speeding up to 20 mph but left high fines ($200-250) for more speeding, on the logic that such egregious speeding is really reckless and clearly intentional. Phil Mendelson, however, pushed to modify the bill to use a linear scale instead of one with a sudden jump.

To lower the fines cost money, and the Council didn't find enough money to lower all speed fines. Instead, the fine for speeding 11-15 mph over the limit only dropped from $100 to $92. It would have made more sense to use the limited funds to drop the lower-speed fines first instead of the higher-speed ones, but that's not what happened.

They also only allocated money in the current fiscal year. Unless this budget said otherwise, the fines would have automatically jumped back up on October 1. Mayor Gray indeed allocated money to keep many of the lower fines, including ones for infractions besides speeding.

However, the administration proposes to set the fine for 11-15 mph and 16-20 mph over both at $100, said budget director Eric Goulet, and also raise the fine for speeding over 20 mph to $250 $200 and over 25 mph to $300. This is actually the same fine schedule Gray previously proposed when the Council was debating lowering fines.

Fines for running red lights did not go down in the last bill. That's in part because AAA's John Townsend actually argued in the task force for maintaining higher red light fines, though he's since started spewing press releases complaining about them, despite his earlier stance.

Here is a table of the old fines, what Cheh and Wells proposed, what passed in the final bill both as the authorized level and the actual level that got funding, and what Gray is proposing for 2014.

Offense2012Cheh/
Wells
Auth.
2013
Funded
2013
Gray
2014
Speeding 1-10 mph (not enforced)$75$50$50$50$50
Speeding 11-15 mph$125$50$75$92$100
Speeding 16-20 mph$150$50$100$100$100
Speeding 21-25 mph$200$200$150$150$200
Speeding 26-30 mph$250$250$250$250$300
Running red light$150$150$150$150$150
Blocking the box$100$50$50$50$50
Not stopping at stop sign$100$50$50$50$50
Not yielding to pedestrian in crosswalk$250$50$75$75$75
Not stopping before right on red$100$50$50$50$50
Right on red when prohibited$100$50$50$50$50

The Budget Support Act is not yet available, so all of the information here is based on my conversation with Goulet, and I am checking to confirm their proposal for the never-enforced 1-10 mph violation and whether not yielding to a pedestrian is $50 or $75. I will update the post when that is available. Update: After talking to Goulet, I have updated the table and added a row for speeding 26-30 mph, whose fine will be rising from $250 to $300 as well.

I originally pushed for even lower fines from cameras, on the logic that the fine should just be high enough to deter speeding or other behaviors, and that it could buy peace. Unfortunately, we really don't have good evidence about what deters speeding. Also, AAA has stepped up the pace of camera complaints and attack press releases, so it's become clear that there's no partner for peace over there.

Therefore, Gray's proposal is a reasonable position. It keeps some of the formerly most egregious fines down and should deter some of the most reckless behavior.

It's not waging any kind of "war on drivers," but if AAA is going to claim there is one even after DC leaders make a good faith effort to address the group's concerns, DC may as well prioritize making neighborhoods safe for residents by adding cameras and maintaining fines.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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So to continue the discussion about fines from the other thread, drivers are now subject to fines of up to $150 for driving 45mph down my narrow one-way residential street.

Awesome. War on Drivers, indeed.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

Apropos of nothing, there is a good conversation on zoning right now on Kojo show. There are some great cartoons on his show's website.

by thump on Mar 28, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

Whatever. I've driven so fast through these speed zones that the camera couldn't even see me.

by aaa on Mar 28, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

Attempting to kill a pedestrian? $75 fine. That's ridiculous, drivers should be getting jail time for that crap.

by Tim on Mar 28, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

What's the rationale for the price discrepancy between running a red light and running a stop sign? And for not stopping before right on red, for that matter?

by 7r3y3r on Mar 28, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

Bloomberg has gone viral on NY legislators who blocked speed cameras in NYC saying he'll give the phone numbers of legislators who blocked it to parents of children killed by motorists:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/nyregion/bloomberg-expresses-rage-over-failed-plan-for-speed-tracking-cameras.html?_r=0

A quote from the story:

""Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said on Wednesday that over 100 cities and states were already using cameras “and study after study has proved that they work.” The Transportation Department cited the example of Washington, D.C., where the police said last year that speeding at camera locations had fallen significantly since 2001, when the devices were first installed.""

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 28, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

Usually traffic lights are installed at busier intersections. Running a stop sign I imagine is statistically less likely to lead to an accident.

by Alan B. on Mar 28, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

Bloomberg has gone viral on NY legislators who blocked speed cameras in NYC saying he'll give the phone numbers of legislators who blocked it to parents of children killed by motorists

Good for him. People don't change their behavior for a $20 fine.

by Jasper on Mar 28, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

Blocking the box is pitifully rarely enforced.

It needs to be regularly and would greatly increase revenue, would cause less pollution from standing, and would diminish temper-related incidents.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 28, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

I realize this is a discussion about budgets, but does DC also have a "points" system for repeat traffic offenders? Without a points system, I'm afraid there are many drivers who will continue to speed and endanger other road users because they'll see these relatively small fines as nothing but "fees" for driving in the city with no real consequences for their actions.

by KG on Mar 28, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

I agree about blocking the box, it's incredibly frustrating for everyone including bus passengers since it can be a serious hindrance to traffic flows. Is there any list of locations? A coworker was telling me that most are in NE/SE but that doesn't seem possible to me given that NW is the largest section of the city, gotta be what 40% of the land area?

by Alan B. on Mar 28, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

I'd suggest enforcing the box-blocking laws, but I'm pretty sure that even the smallest fines for that offense would completely crater Maryland's economy.

by andrew on Mar 28, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

I understand that a policeman writing a ticket for blocking the box might worsen problems but why isn't this enforced by cameras?? You would think it would be the same as "going through a red light" if you're caught in the intersection with a red light. But I've never heard of anyone getting such a ticket. Probably the cameras are adjusted to only catch cars exiting the intersection on red.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 28, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

Would it be fair to say that lobbying by AAA has unintentionally raised the speed camera fine for people driving 10-20 mph over the limit, while successfully preventing a small fine for people driving 1-10 over the limit?

by JimT on Mar 28, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

@Alan B.

"I agree about blocking the box, it's incredibly frustrating for everyone including bus passengers since it can be a serious hindrance to traffic flows."

Not to mention everyone who has to deal with Metrobus drivers, who I see blocking the box on a daily basis. And it's worse when they do it, because their vehicles are three times longer than other vehicles and thus block even more traffic.

by CapHill on Mar 28, 2013 4:42 pm • linkreport

Would it be fair to say that lobbying by AAA has unintentionally raised the speed camera fine for people driving 10-20 mph over the limit, while successfully preventing a small fine for people driving 1-10 over the limit?

It's stated MPD policy to ignore any speeding up to 10 mph over the speed limit. Which is why we don't have speed cameras in the neighborhoods: the de facto speed limit on every DC street is 35 mph.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

The only reasonable proposal is scrapping traffic cameras altogether. Please help me do just that and sign my petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/chairman-city-council-washington-d-c-allow-dc-residents-to-vote-on-banning-speed-cameras

by Tom Elliott on Mar 28, 2013 11:19 pm • linkreport

Yet no mention of fixing artificially low speed limits.

35 mph on NY Ave, a three lane divided highway, with no chance of pedestrians or even intersections?

Come now. The only rationale for that is revenue.

Once you establish a track record like that it's clear that revenue trumps safety.

As for blocking the box, there are many times in DC that you can easily block the box without meaning to. So many of our intersections have poor visibility or poor timing, and you can accidentally find yourself in the box.

Yes, there are jerks out there that block the box intentionally.

But there are also situations where even the best of drivers find themselves 'in the box' because someone else (often a Metrobus or a pedestrian) runs the intersection in front of them or otherwise blocks them in.

I've been caught in the box several times because pedestrians jaywalk in front of me.

Should I get a ticket because I do the right thing and stop in the box when a pedestrian jaywalks in front of me?

If it's a cop giving the ticket he has the ability to make a judgement call, to see that you blocking the box prevented a larger problem, etc.

But to have a machine run by a for profit company will give you a ticket for that.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 6:25 am • linkreport

Yet no mention of fixing artificially low speed limits.

Could be because "fixing artificially low speed limits" is about as low a priority as one can imagine in a modern city. If nothing else, the reasonable speed limits serve as an introduction to the city. "Welcome to DC. Now slow down."

It's a reflection of our values.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 8:41 am • linkreport

Your values -- not mine. I don't think we should have any speed limits. People should be ticketed for driving recklessly, and that's it. There should be no arbitrary limits that don't actually correlate w/ greater safety.

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

Your values -- not mine. I don't think we should have any speed limits.

Given that elected officials set policy, it's an expression of our values. God bless America.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

Actually, Gray has increased a number of "artificially-low" speed limits, and even David Alpert thinks that the speed limit on that portion of NY Ave is ridiculous.

That said, one of the reasons why that 35mph zone exists is so that there's not a jarring transition between US-50's 55mph limit, and NY Ave's eventual 25mph limit.

Personally, I think that the ideal solution is to bump up the speed limit a bit in that area, and install one of those "YOUR SPEED IS __. CAMERA AHEAD" signs in the area.

by andrew on Mar 29, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] That would be true if it were, in fact - true. Unfortunately, our elected representatives act out of their own interests and simply dress up their actions somehow being in the voters' interests. We all know virtually everyone detests traffic cameras, yet the City Council will never get rid of them owing to what a great cash gusher they are.

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 10:11 am • linkreport

We all know virtually everyone detests traffic cameras,

You must be new here! I can assure you that many of us do not "detest" traffic cameras and actually appreciate them! Likely because most of us are never affected by them, because we know how not to go 11mph over the speed limit!

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

"Could be because "fixing artificially low speed limits" is about as low a priority as one can imagine in a modern city. If nothing else, the reasonable speed limits serve as an introduction to the city. "Welcome to DC. Now slow down."

It's a reflection of our values."

But you don't get to couple that with extremely expensive tickets.

There are countless roads in DC where there is no posted limit, and most people coming to DC are used to higher speed limits.

We do VERY little to tell people before they get what may be a $200 plus ticket.

That's a crappy thing to do to people (particularly poor people, for whom a $100 ticket is a big deal (you could easily wrack up $1000 in tickets in DC before you are ever mailed your first one), and gives us an image of being exactly what the naysayers say - intentionally hostile to cars.

Being unwilling to even address the idea of adjusting speed limits where they are clearly too low invalidates the whole 'these devices are just here for safety argument'.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

"That said, one of the reasons why that 35mph zone exists is so that there's not a jarring transition between US-50's 55mph limit, and NY Ave's eventual 25mph limit."

That would make sense, except that it's not a zone in which you slow down.

This is going East, headed toward the 55 mph, from the slower limit.

There are quite a few examples of very low speed limits in low-danger areas where there are speed cameras.

And places where the speed limit is lowered ONLY in the speed camera zone.

Used to be that way on the 9th Street tunnel onramp, going under the Mall.

They lowered it by 5 mph just in the camera zone area.

Actually making the area less safe, as people are adjusting to multiple speed limits in a small area.

I think they may have changed that last year (haven't been in that tunnel in a while), but that's the way they originally set it up.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

One overlooked factor that over-reliance on devices to do our traffic enforcement....

A camera won't pull over drunk drivers.

Or catch convicted felons (a huge number of convicted felons are caught in routine traffic stops, or at least used to be).

Or stolen cars.

All of which a real live cop can do.

The danger a drunk driver can do on the road would considerably outweigh the danger a dozen people going 11 mph over a 25 mph hour speed limit would do.

Particularly since that drunk driver may drive for miles before he reaches his destination (or doesn't).

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

"Given that elected officials set policy, it's an expression of our values. God bless America."

Your faith in elected DC officials is clearly far greater than mine.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

There are certainly a few places, such as the aforementioned NY Ave, where the limit seems to be set unnaturally low given the size of the road. Not sure if this is just poor transportation planning or a deliberate effort to try to boost speed camera revenue.

by Chris S. on Mar 29, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

"Bloomberg has gone viral on NY legislators who blocked speed cameras in NYC saying he'll give the phone numbers of legislators who blocked it to parents of children killed by motorists"

Regardless of how you feel on this issue the idea of giving out personal information about legislators out of spite is a terrible idea.

It'd be the same if we were to do that for those that vote against how we want on abortion, gay marriage, gun control, or any other issue.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

Looks like I may have spoke too soon.

The article doesn't say specifically what info Bloomberg is advocating giving out.

if it's just public office numbers that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The article is a little unclear.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

Regarding streets with too-low limits: there are a few, like New York Avenue, but not so many as to damn all speed cameras to irrelevance. Further, while those speed limits should eventually be adjusted, the MPD's policy of not enforcing up to 10 mph over provides some right-now, no-cost mitigation.

I like speed cameras. They not only cut down on speeding near where I live and play by othhers, but also serve as a forcing function to make *me* more cognizant of my speed and driving. It's easy to speed, even if you know it's really not a good thing to do. Reminders help.

by worthing on Mar 29, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

This is such a racket. At least I dont have to cut through New York Ave between 295 and 395 anymore. NY ave has 3-4 cameras.

by Tom on Mar 29, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

I prefer liberty. And with liberty comes responsibility. I can drive perfectly safely without the peering eyes of Big Brother.

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

I can drive perfectly safely without the peering eyes of Big Brother.

Then why do you care? The camera only takes a picture if you are breaking the law.

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

I prefer liberty. And with liberty comes responsibility. I can drive perfectly safely without the peering eyes of Big Brother.

There is no greater liberty than that of a free people to self-determination. Hooray for Democracy!

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

"The camera only takes a picture if you are breaking the law."

Maybe for now. No telling what those clever guys at NSA/FBI will come up with next.

by Chris S. on Mar 29, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

Those cameras are always rolling. That's why the footage is able to be used in police investigations.

And that's not even a good analogy. Even if they were 100 percent effective getting people to drive more safely, that wouldn't justify their widespread use. Imagine the police announce that they want to install cameras in everyone's bedrooms to protect against domestic abuse. Surely that would be an effective tool -- but I doubt anyone would want to sacrifice their privacy for the improved law enforcement.

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

@Tom Elliott - your analogy is a red herring. Actually, it's so red, it might be hot pink. There's a vast difference between public safety measures and infringements on the constitutionally-protected right to privacy.

by worthing on Mar 29, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

" Imagine the police announce that they want to install cameras in everyone's bedrooms to protect against domestic abuse. Surely that would be an effective tool -- but I doubt anyone would want to sacrifice their privacy for the improved law enforcement."

I dont suppose an officer physically present in the bedroom would be acceptable either - so does this mean you are against police patrols in the streets?

Unlike your bedroom, which is a private space, the street is something shared by us all.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

Those cameras are always rolling. That's why the footage is able to be used in police investigations.

Got an article that describes this? I have heard of pictures taken of red-light violators being used to place them in an area, but nothing about video footage.

Even if they were 100 percent effective getting people to drive more safely, that wouldn't justify their widespread use.
Why not? Because privacy? Because of things they maybe sort of could be used for but are not used for?

Imagine the police announce that they want to install cameras in everyone's bedrooms to protect against domestic abuse. Surely that would be an effective tool -- but I doubt anyone would want to sacrifice their privacy for the improved law enforcement.
I think you'll agree there is a gulf of difference in privacy expectations between your bedroom and a public street.

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

sure puts a different twist on "share the road", eh?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

MLD - Here are two just from the last week:

http://reason.com/24-7/2013/03/27/police-want-traffic-cameras-used-for-wid

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/lake-mary-police-tap-countys-traffic-camera-system/nWyW8/

There are many stories about traffic cameras being used for things that have nothing to do with enforcing traffic laws.

Worthing - I didn't realize our rights to privacy are foregone once we step inside our vehicles. I also don't see why enforcing speed limits is of greater importance than preventing abuse/rape.

As far as being opposed to having police issuing citations -- police are better than cameras because they're thoughtful human beings who are capable of subjective analysis. If you're passing a car and need to temporarily exceed the speed limit, a police officer will understand the circumstances; a traffic camera will not. Occasionally the same thing happens w/ red lights -- the signal will be green when entering the intersection, but then the car in front of you will be stopped for some reason, and suddenly you're "blocking the box" during a yellow/red light.

The point is that there needs to be limits. If we just roll over every time the government proposes some new expansion of their policing powers, we will not long be a free people.

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

"Worthing - I didn't realize our rights to privacy are foregone once we step inside our vehicles."

Your reasonable expectation of privacy changes when you walk out your door into a public space.

"As far as being opposed to having police issuing citations -- police are better than cameras because they're thoughtful human beings who are capable of subjective analysis."

which has ZERO to do with privacy - this isnt a privacy concern, its an "I dont like this form of traffic enforcement" concern.

Its certainly good that a live policeman can do subjective analysis. But they are also expensive, and cannot be everywhere, which limits enforcement, and leads to widespread violation of traffic laws - which leads to dead people.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

"There's a vast difference between public safety measures and infringements on the constitutionally-protected right to privacy."

Is there? That should come as a shock to the FBI and TSA.

by Chris S. on Mar 29, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

"As far as being opposed to having police issuing citations -"

Not about them issuing citations, but about them patrolling the street and potentially WATCHING you, which would be unacceptable in your bedroom, which was the argument you made against cameras.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

hey chris

you should be aware that there are folks out there with dashboard cams, and cyclists with helmet cams

DO NOT count on not being filmed when in your car, ANYWHERE were there is another vehicle or cyclist.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

I don't think we should have any speed limits. People should be ticketed for driving recklessly, and that's it. There should be no arbitrary limits that don't actually correlate w/ greater safety.

I feel the same way about income taxes. I don't think there should be specific amounts that the government should compel us to pay. People should merely send in an amount of money that they themselves feel is sufficient. There should be no arbitrary amounts that don't actually correlate w/ optimal fiscal soundness.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

As far as being opposed to having police issuing citations -- police are better than cameras because they're thoughtful human beings who are capable of subjective analysis.

Translation: They don't issue tickets to Real Americans (e.g. white, middle-class people).

Best thing about speed cameras is that they're objective.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

Here are two just from the last week:

One of those is about using pictures taken of red-light runners in other investigations. That's not "constantly rolling" nor is it taking a picture of anyone who isn't violating the traffic law. Would you be against the police using the security camera footage from a bank to call into question the robber's story that he wasn't there?

The other story appears to be about cameras that show you what the traffic conditions are like - again nothing to do with red light or speeding cameras, which take a picture.

I also don't see why enforcing speed limits is of greater importance than preventing abuse/rape.

It's not more important - that's why we use robots to enforce speed limits, so we can let more live police solve crimes that require live police. But you seem to be against this.

Occasionally the same thing happens w/ red lights -- the signal will be green when entering the intersection, but then the car in front of you will be stopped for some reason, and suddenly you're "blocking the box" during a yellow/red light.

Yes, you are not supposed to enter the intersection if you cannot clear it. This is pretty much the definition of blocking the box - or did you think people just drive into the intersection and then stop for no reason?

Do you seriously not understand the dangers that cars and speeding pose to other users? I have to question where you live - middle of nowhere Montana?

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

I don't care about being on someone's home video, unless that person has a security clearance. Also, cameras can see pedestrians too you know.

by Chris S. on Mar 29, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

Chris - Id bet a lot of the cyclists around here have security clearances - not sure why that matters.

And yeah, cams can see peds and also cyclists. A good incentive for all us of us to follow the law on the roads.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

""As far as being opposed to having police issuing citations -- police are better than cameras because they're thoughtful human beings who are capable of subjective analysis."
Translation: They don't issue tickets to Real Americans (e.g. white, middle-class people).

Best thing about speed cameras is that they're objective.""

Really? You managed to make this a race issue?

That's pretty impressive.

Worth noting that the majority of cops in DC are black.

Do you really think they are letting middle class white people off the hook out of proportion to how they let other people off the hook?

Oboe, you've often got sound ideas but making this a race issue really kills your argument.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

"And yeah, cams can see peds and also cyclists. A good incentive for all us of us to follow the law on the roads."

But cyclists have made sure bikes are exempted from traffic and red light camera enforcement, since they aren't required to have license plates.

And of course now that the cop isn't involved, that means zero enforcement for cyclists or pedestrians.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

I mean I hate constant surveillance, but taking a picture of your car/plate when you run a red light or drive 20% more than the permitted speed limit? Can't say I have a real issue there.

The point is that there needs to be limits.

Except on the speed people can drive apparently:
I don't think we should have any speed limits.

This is an insane position, we have had speed limits for decades. Speed limits are not arbitrary - they take into account the safety of car users and other road users even if they are imperfect.

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

But cyclists have made sure bikes are exempted from traffic and red light camera enforcement, since they aren't required to have license plates.

Cyclists hardly present a danger to other road users unlike half-ton automobiles.

by MLD on Mar 29, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

"And of course now that the cop isn't involved, that means zero enforcement for cyclists or pedestrians."

My understanding is that cameras supplement police enforcement, not that there will be none.

Also cyclists who do dangerous things face a good chance of being hit and hurt - and if the driver has a dashboard, cam, they can demonstrate they were not at fault.

Which of course is the same reason safe cyclists like helmet cams.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

Translation: They don't issue tickets to Real Americans (e.g. white, middle-class people).
Best thing about speed cameras is that they're objective.""
Really? You managed to make this a race issue?

That's pretty impressive.

Worth noting that the majority of cops in DC are black.

Fair enough:

Alternative Translation: [Police will] issue tickets to "gentrifiers" who live here for two years and think they own this town, and spare the "real" Washingtonians.

Again, best thing about speed cameras is that they're objective.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

Cyclists hardly present a danger to other road users unlike half-ton automobiles.

Nonsense, a cyclist could--through their erratic driving--cause a driver to swerve, plowing into a fuel tanker, causing that to burst into flames spewing a lethal fireball in every direction, killing scores of onlookers, including possibly a kindergarten class on their way to a field trip.

Of course, a gray squirrel poses the same potential for mayhem, but...

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

"Of course, a gray squirrel poses the same potential for mayhem, but..."

yet another unfair attack on a DC politician. So typical for GGW.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

For everyone making fun of me for suggesting we have too many traffic rules -- and that we only need one that prohibits reckless driving -- please note the case of Christianfield, Denmark, where the town removed all road signs. Instead of resulting in a spike of auto-related fatalities, they instead dropped to zero. Apparently when people are forced to take responsibility for themselves, look both ways, and be careful, safer driving results. When people simply assume some distant governmental authority will make all of the right decisions for them -- and robotically adhere to whatever the rules advise -- bigger problems arise.

We don't need thousands of signs, cameras, and other intrusions into our daily lives, We just need to act like adults.

More about "naked roads" here: http://www.brake.org.uk/facts/naked-roads.htm

by Tom Elliott on Mar 29, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

"My understanding is that cameras supplement police enforcement, not that there will be none."

Clearly you don't understand how MPD works. They only do traffic enforcement if forced.

"Also cyclists who do dangerous things face a good chance of being hit and hurt - and if the driver has a dashboard, cam, they can demonstrate they were not at fault."

Very few drivers have dashboard cams, and even if they did you can't identify the cyclist without a license plate.

And quite often if a cyclist causes damage that they can walk or limp away from without accepting responsibility, they do so.

Just like I suppose a lot of drivers would if they thought they could.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 5:45 pm • linkreport

So, Oboe, cyclists pose no harm?

I'm not saying the harm is equal to cars.

But to dismiss it as completely inconsequential is about as useful as making this about race.

For instance, cyclists can easily run into old people and do serious damage. All it takes is knocking over an elderly person and that can cripple them for the rest of their life.

I'm sure that doesn't happen every day, but I'm also sure it happens.

And cyclists can cause accidents that they aren't even involved in. They can easily run a light, cause a legal driver to slam on his brakes or swerve to avoid hitting him, and then get hit by another car.

The cyclist rides away, since no one can ID him, and the drivers are left to clean up the mess.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 5:48 pm • linkreport

"Alternative Translation: [Police will] issue tickets to "gentrifiers" who live here for two years and think they own this town, and spare the "real" Washingtonians."

Side note: more and more newcomers do in fact own this town.

They are buying property at a much higher rate than many that have rented here for forty years.

by Hillman on Mar 29, 2013 5:58 pm • linkreport

For instance, cyclists can easily run into old people and do serious damage. All it takes is knocking over an elderly person and that can cripple them for the rest of their life.

A large dog can do this as well. Or a six year old. Time to put license plates on dogs. And withhold bikes from young children until such time as they're 16.

And cyclists can cause accidents that they aren't even involved in. They can easily run a light, cause a legal driver to slam on his brakes or swerve to avoid hitting him, and then get hit by another car.

Yes we covered that above. It's a variant on a "black swan" event; I call it a "gray squirrel".

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 6:00 pm • linkreport

And quite often if a cyclist causes damage that they can walk or limp away from without accepting responsibility, they do so. Just like I suppose a lot of drivers would if they thought they could.

I suppose they would if they could get away with it. Thanks goodness for responsibility.

http://bit.ly/14CjzCH

by oboe on Mar 29, 2013 6:11 pm • linkreport

I'm glad they're doing something about the fines.

A $150 ticket for driving 50 mph on a damn freeway is ridiculous.

by ceefer66 on Mar 29, 2013 6:17 pm • linkreport

Hillman is right.

Speed cameras do NOTHING to catch REALLY dangerous drivers, especially where there are no speed cameras - like the residential areas and school zones that have been left "un-watched" in favor of freeways and commuter routes.

And even if there is a speed camera in place, someone zooming down a residential street or school zone at 60 mph can't be stopped by any speed camera. And drunk drivers get away since nearly all drunk drivers drive BELOW the speed limit. Then we have the reckless drivers - those who weave and tailgate. You can do a lot of that too without speeding.

And when was the last time a speed camera caught someone with drugs, weapons, or outstanding warrants? Or caught someone driving with a license that was suspended or revoked for cause?

MPD obviously doesn't care about the above-mentioned drivers; their focus is now on the REALLY "dangerous lawbreakers" - people who get caught by speed cameras while driving 55 mph on a freeway or 40 mph on a commuter route.

The camera cheerleaders appear totally oblivious to the fact that MPD has abandoned enforcement by live officers and left traffic enforcement up to the traffic cameras.

The closest thing MPD now has to live officer traffic enforcement are the dozing cops we now see in police cars "monitoring" speed cameras on the commuter routes like NY Ave east of Bladensburg Rd. From all appearances, the only cops actively enforcing the traffic laws in DC are the US Capitol Police and the National Park Police. Aimee Custis' story (posted today in GGW) of being left out to dry by MPD after being the victim of a hit and run driver and calling 911 is a case in point (Capitol Police eventually responded).

MPD "justifies" this madness by putting up cherry-picked PR data claiming "increased safety" while the camera fans wax absolutely giddy about how "safe" DC has now become from all those "dangerous drivers from the suburbs in their SUVs", crow about how "lawbreakers" are "filling DC's coffers", and insult anyone who dares to point out the obvious flaws in MPD's obsession with photo enforcement.

The really sad thing about all of this is that DC residents actually cheer on MPD when they should be outraged at being bamboozled.

by ceefer66 on Mar 29, 2013 6:40 pm • linkreport

Oboe:

I never said drivers don't hit and run.

Quite the contrary.

But cyclists do the same thing.

Recall the old lady hit in the alley a couple months back (near the convention center, if I remember right).

And denying that doesn't do your argument any good.

by Hillman on Mar 30, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

"A large dog can do this as well. Or a six year old. Time to put license plates on dogs. And withhold bikes from young children until such time as they're 16.

Dogs are required to be on leash except in designated offleash areas, and they are required to be licensed.

And of course their owners are required to be with them.

So, yes, they in effect have 'license plates'.

And of course dogs aren't in the roadway as commuters.

And I don't think I've ever seen a six year old on a bike in heavy traffic. If he is, he shouldn't be.

by Hillman on Mar 30, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

A dog license that is not VISIBLE does not serve the purpose claimed for bike licenses - to make enforcement easier. Nor AFAIK is any particular training required for a dog license. Now if the only part of licensing is to make biking more difficult.....

As for heavy traffic, are you going to allow biking on roads without licenses but not in "heavy traffic"? ANd I thought this call for licenses was about pedestrian safety. If so, theres no reason for that distinction - you can hit a ped cycling on a cul de sac or quite side street. The focus on heavy traffic makes me think this is about convenience to motorists, not about ped safety.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 30, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

Recall the old lady hit in the alley a couple months back (near the convention center, if I remember right).

This happened more than two years ago:
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2010/11/cyclist-injuries-two-pedestrians-leaves-the-scene.html

And when was the last one before that? The fact that you remember this as recent (I was surprised too) means that it is a rare event. Somehow one major accident every 2-4 years doesn't scream "must enforce!" to me. It certainly doesn't happen remotely as often as car hit and runs, for obvious reasons.

by MLD on Mar 30, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

One does not need to be speeding to get a ticket (or even moving):

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-12-12/news/bs-md-speed-camera-stopped-car-20121212_1_potential-citation-xerox-state-camera-ticket

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-12-14/news/bs-md-speed-camera-error-rate-20121214_1_camera-tickets-camera-contractor-xerox-state

The companies referenced in these stories were "repeat customers:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-12-04/news/bs-md-speed-cameras-july-emails-20121204_1_xerox-state-camera-contractor-camera-program

http://www.mddriversalliance.org/2012/10/trucking-company-questions-accuracy-of.html

However in these instances these tickets were all due to erroneous speed measurements: the cameras apparently have a tendency to overstate the speed of certain types of vehicles (particularly trucks).

Had Baltimore City not made the "mistake" of providing video clips and millisecond precision timestamps to ticket recipients (most jurisdictions round off the timestamps and argue that images cannot be used as proof of speed), then there would have been no way for the Baltimore Sun and others to establish evidence of a pattern of errors and FORCE the city to admit the problem. The same faulty cameras would still be in use. The companies getting the tickets would have had no evidence to give them reason to dispute the accuracy of the tickets issued to their drivers (which in some cases were claiming the trucks were traveling twice their actual speed) and might well have punished their drivers accordingly (quite possibly by firing them).

by RWE on Mar 31, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

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